Takora just might be the new Taj.
Without Fenway senior point guard Tajanay Veiga-Lee and South Boston point guard Elaina Wright-McCarthy in the lineup, the Blue squad managed to win the Dr. Joseph Warren Boston City League All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon with Fenway freshman Takora McIntyre playing point guard for much of the 50-47 victory.
Veiga-Lee couldn’t play in her fourth consecutive All-Star game at Northeastern’s Cabot Center because she was working out for the Providence College coaches and Wright-McCarthy was out of the lineup with an injury.
“It was a pleasure, I actually never met her before, I’ve never seen her play, I can’t recall seeing her play, but she was awesome,” Blue coach Emily Coleman said. “She came out of nowhere. She’s a pleasure ... She played with so much grace, like she’s been there before. She played with such leadership.
"She’s a very tough player, very tough player.”
The victory also means that the Blue team gets to attend the April 7 Celtics game against the Washington Wizards, during which they will be honored on the floor at halftime.
“It’s really exciting to have an opportunity to do this,” Coleman said. “This was really fun. The girls were great. Nobody had any issues about playing time, I tried to even it out, but they are excited that collectively we are going to experience something at the Garden.”
The Red team came close to returning to the Garden for a second straight year. But McIntyre, who tied for a team-high 10 points with Madison Park’s Amber Edwards, stole the ball in front of the Red team’s bench in the final seconds.
New Mission’s DeAndra Humphries (11 points) managed to get the ball back for the Red team but her last-ditch, half-court buzzer-beater clanked off the rim.
“I was just thinking ‘Don’t let her shoot it, don’t shoot it,’ and then I see the ball coming and I grabbed it,” McIntyre said of her final steal. “I was thinking the only way we’re going to beat this team is if we all worked hard on defense so I felt that we all put all our effort into defense and that’s how we won.”
McIntyre’s steal came after South Boston’s Daitannah Smith (6 points) split a pair of free throws to put Blue up 3 points with 9.5 seconds let.
“I thought I was going to miss it because I was struggling the whole game, but my team had confidence in me so I had to make that one,” Smith said.
O’Bryant junior Raven Kelsey (game-high 12 points) scored to put the Red team down 49-47 with 58 seconds left. She also scored 3 points in the Red team’s 8-2 run that cut Blue’s lead to 40-38 with 4:16 to play.
Kelsey said they were rushing their shots before they finally made a comeback.
“We had to move the ball around,” she said. “Once we moved the ball around we got open shots and open layups and we took our time.”
Blue took a 38-30 lead into the final quarter after McIntyre scored 4 points and added two assists in a 12-2 run to close out the third quarter.
“Her defense is incredible and she’s really small, so in every possession she’s there in every possession,” Kelsey said of McIntyre. “You have to protect the ball at all times.”
Even though Kelsey said she knew the game would be tough even without Veiga-Lee because McIntyre was a more than suitable sub, she hesitated to call McIntyre the new Veiga-Lee.
McIntyre, however, didn’t seem to mind the comparison and said she aims to make four straight All-Star games just like her mentor.
“I always look up to Taj,” McIntyre said. “Coming in as a freshman I’m looking to do the same as her.”
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